CPC Dean Del Maestro got a rude wakeup call yesterday. It seems that Elections Canada is investigating his campaign spending for the 2008 because of a serendipitous small claims action launched by Holinshed Research Group, and Conservative friendly robodialling and call centre company. Here is a link to the story, including a scanned copy of a personal cheque issued by Del Maestro to cover elections expenses. Please note there is no such expense claimed in the actual audited financial statements for the campaign.
The CBC reported: “”All I can say is all of the expenses related to the campaign — all of them — have been fully accounted for and those statements have been fully audited and accepted by Elections Canada,” he said.”
You can readily find the detailed audited list of Del Maestro’s 2008 Campaign expenses at the Elections Canada electoral finance database here. Please note these are the AUDITED returns, which means that Del Maestro’s Financial Agent had to go through a compliance audit, to make sure that all the little details were 100% up to snuff. The auditor, and the Financial Agent theoretically scrutinised every detail, and swore that they were telling the truth, the whole truth, etc. I am stressing this point because these financials are way past the point where it is OK for some errors and ommissions to creep in. They have had to support every line item, and swear that this is the complete picture. Guess what, there is no entry for this $21,000 expense.
The CBC reported further: “Del Mastro said any campaign expenses he paid were reimbursed by the campaign or the riding association.” Well, well, well. It is clear from the fact that EC is investigating him that he DID not disclose anything about these payments to EC. The audit is supposed to examine any oddball discrepencies like this. If there were some overpayment, or billing dispute, then by law the Campaign Bank account should have been kept open until everything was cleared up. The auditor would have examined the questionable transaction, the Financial Agent would paid any funds owing to Del Maestro through the Campaign account. and REPORTED what happened to Elections Canada. For Del Maestro to be re-imbursed by the EDA is illegal. That is because the audit is what Elections Canada relies on to prove that he did not exceed spending limits by paying expenses through some third party (Like Del Maestro’s personal account, or through the EDA or some murkier player).
It may strike you as unfair that Elections Canada simply goes after Del Maestro without giving him a chance to explain. Well put your fears on poor Del Maestro’s behalf to rest. That is what an audit is for, to explain everything in the level of detail required to establish the TRUTH. In Canada we rely on voluntary reporting, supported by an independant audit. All the questions are answered during that audit period. If this transaction did in fact occurr, and it was not in the audited statements, then it’s game over for Del Maestro. It would not have been an accident, it would have meant that the Campaign deliberately and massively exceeded their spending limits, and then tried to deceive either Elections Canada, the Auditor, or both.
Now the second question in my post title is ‘Has EC grown a pair?’ It is a relevant question, because in the past EC has been a total Patsy when it comes to throwing the book at Elections Fraudsters. For example, the infamous ‘In and Out Scandal’ prosecution allowed the Conservatives to cop a plea bargain to keep those responsible out of jail. The CPC paid roughly a $50,000 fine, repaid the money stolen from the taxpayers and that was all EC had to say about the fact that they stole the election, and attempted to defraud the taxpayer with phony local expenses at the same time. In this new case, should their investigation show that Del Maestro did in fact steal the 2008 election in his riding, they can decide that he should say sorry, or they could actually prosecute him, (and his financial agent) for an intentional pre-meditated breach of the act. Penalties range up to 5 years in prison, (yeah right. Like EC will actually try to put a Conservative in Jail).
Personally, I am disgusted with EC. They are clearly NOT an appropriate entity to enforce the Law. Sure, they can investigate elections breaches and audit etc. but imho a credible law ENFORCEMENT agency should be carrying these prosecutions to their logical conclusion. An offense should be prosecuted ALWAYS. No matter who committed it. I find it reprehensible that EC can hide their decision making behind a veil, and prosecute or not depending on whether they are having a bad hair day. I am sure it is not as trivial as bad hair day decison making, but really, how are we supposed to know? We can only know by looking at their actions. At this juncture, Elections Canada’s credibility is on the line. This appears to be an extremely easy case to investigate, and it will not take more than a few hours to determine what the facts are. The jury is still out, and we shall see if EC has actually grown a pair. One thing is for sure, Del Maestro is running scared. This could be the straw that broke the camels back, and it could be the rock upon which his political career foundered. And another thing is for sure. The CPC in general, and Del Maestro in particular have taken no prisoners in the past, and they revel in destroying reputations and careers. Nobody, but nobody will shed a tear for him if he ends up sitting in a cell in one of his shiny new prisons.
Filed under: Electoral Finance |